At 6’4” (1.93 m) and 319 pounds (144.7 kg), SirVincent Rogers doesn’t look like the kind of guy that scares easily.

But the Ottawa REDBLACKS offensive lineman knows enough to be afraid of diabetes. His mother died from complications of type 2 diabetes 5 years ago, and both his father and younger brother are currently on dialysis, their kidney failure a complication of the same disease.

“Diabetes can ruin a family,” the athlete says soberly. “I’ve seen the effects of it first-hand, and it’s really tough to watch.” His mother underwent repeated amputations for an infected cut that turned gangrenous, and spent the last 7 years of her life on dialysis as her kidneys and pancreas failed. “She fought for 7 years, and that’s 7 years I’ll never forget,” Rogers says.

The painful experience turned him into an advocate for Sun Life Financial’s annual diabetes awareness campaign. This is the 4th year the financial-services giant has teamed up with the Canadian Football League (CFL) to create a multimedia campaign to raise awareness, and encourage Canadians and football fans to take an online type 2 diabetes risk assessment test.

“We are excited to join forces with the CFL to encourage football fans and Canadians to take charge of their health and understand their type 2 diabetes risk,” says Sun Life Financial’s Paul Joliat, Assistant Vice-President, Philanthropy and Sponsorships. “Currently, 1 in 3 Canadians is affected by diabetes or prediabetes. The good news is that 90% of those affected by the disease have type 2 diabetes, which can be delayed and/or prevented with healthy eating, exercise and, of course, identifying your risk.”

Rogers credits his own involvement in football for the fact that he has not suffered from the health problems that have plagued the rest of his family.

“Being constantly busy with sports has helped me combat any hereditary tendencies to diabetes,” he says.

As the father of 2 young children, the 30-year-old football player is determined to ensure that his family doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past. “Obviously diabetes could affect any of us if we don’t do what we need to do,” he points out. His family watches their diet, and his 9-year-old daughter plays on a soccer team. He believes it’s never too soon to teach kids about the dangers of diabetes. His advice to his fans is simple: “Stay as active as possible, whether it’s sports, walking, biking; and just be conscious of what you put in your body.”

And, of course, get screened before it’s too late. “A lot of people think, if I don’t know, it won’t hurt me,” he says. “That’s the worst approach you can possibly take.”

Learn your type 2 diabetes risk at